Syria has already received the first shipment of an advanced Russian air defense system and will soon get the rest of the S-300 missiles, President Bashar Al-Assad was quoted as saying on Thursday.
“Syria has received the first shipment of Russian anti-aircraft S-300 rockets,” Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar newspaper quoted Assad as saying in an interview due to be broadcast later in the day on Al Manar TV.
“The rest of the shipment will arrive soon,” Al-Assad added.
Russia has said it would deliver the missile system to the Syrian government over Western objections, saying the move would help stabilize the regional balance.
The US, France and Israel have all called on Russia to stop the delivery.
Moscow, ally of Assad's government, appeared to grow more defiant after the European Union let its arms embargo on Syria expire earlier this week, opening up the possibility of arming the rebels battling to topple the President.
Meanwhile, Israel is looking into reports on Thursday that Syria had received the first shipment of the advanced Russian air defense system S-300, an Israeli official said.
“I have no information beyond what has been reported, which we are looking into,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Officials in Israel, the United States’ main ally in the region, say the S-300 could reach deep into the Jewish state and threaten flights over its main commercial airport near Tel Aviv.
Israeli National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror told EU Diplomats last week in Jerusalem that Israel would prevent S-300 Russian-supplied anti-aircraft missile system to become operational, Haaretz quoted the official as saying on Thursday.
Earlier this month, Israel was reported to have told Washington that Syria had begun payments for a $900 million purchase of S-300s, with an initial deliver due within three months.
Source: Reuters; Al-Akhbar